“We define ourselves in the same way that God does: by what Jesus has done on the cross. We are not defined by what we have done or by what we do or by the things that we have. Jesus has atoned for our sin, clothed us in righteousness, and adopted us as sons and daughters. This is our identity.”
—Brad House, Community, 91.
Every time we add something new to our schedule, we must take something out. Alongside your ‘to do’ list think about keeping a ‘don’t do’ list as well.
“Many times, developing the ability to spend time in the Bible and to hear what it’s saying is less about our aptitude for scripture and more about all the noise that exists around us. We all know we could use more Bible, but we often forget we could use less of everything else.”
—Jared Wilson, Abide
Today we begin a new weekly series I’ll simply call “-ISMS,” a look at the dominant philosophies of our day. Some will be overtly religious; some will seem non-religious (at first); all are the lenses through which we tend to think and feel about ourselves, God and the world around us. First up, consumerism.
The more we consume, the less we live.
Alan Hirsch gets to the heart of how everyone is a disciple of something and why someone cannot stay a consumer and become a growing disciple of Jesus.
(Let this 3 minute video provoke your thoughts.)
“Everyone is a disciple and no one stops being a disciple.”
“If we don’t disciple, then the culture sure will. (And it’s doing a good job of it.)”
Consumerism is being defined by what we consume. One’s meaning, identity, purpose and belonging becomes tied to the consumption of products. Consumerism is the most prevalent religion of our day.
Jesus’ call to all consumers:
Only then will we truly live.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” —Jesus (John 12:24)
The goal and power of the Christian life is worship. Everyone everywhere at every moment worships someone or something. What do you worship? What are you worshiping right now? Whose approval do you crave?
Paul’s ambition in a phrase:
So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him.
—2 Corinthians 5:9
Here’s a man so bent on helping others grow and know God that he takes responsibility for their very lives. So he sacrificed and gave and confronted and extended grace. Paul was relentless and driven, yet transparent and authentic.
Things can get complicated quickly when so many relationships are at stake. Yet his ambition and desire for approval was singular: pleasing God was all he wanted to do. When he submitted his daily plans to God no one else was CC’d on the email.
In a culture where we are commended to focus on pleasing ourselves and where masses celebrate those who make their living pleasing themselves in public (celebrities), what a freeing reality to find ourselves wrapped up in pleasing Someone who is genuinely worth celebrating. He is so worthy and compellingly beautiful that any small thing done for Him is greater than something big done for ourselves (who are so small).
How will you please God today?
“There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.”
—C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 109
“Our God Above,” a song of God-centered renewal, from Andy Melvin’s album The Human Engine Waits:
Come and fill us Father
with Your living water
’cause these wells we’ve dug are dry
the world we have befriended
has left us empty-handed
and only You can satisfy
as we return to You
our spirits are renewed
and our hearts are moved to worship You alone
our God above
we lift You up
to the place that You deserve
within our hearts
and we glorify
the Lord on high
You have no equal on the earth
No equal on the earth
Lord, we claim the promise
that the work You started
You’ll be faithful to complete
so we trust in Your might as we offer our lives
as a living sacrifice of praise to You
and we! declare! our love! to You!
yeah we! declare! our love! to You!
Live recording of “Nothing Compares” by Andy Melvin and the Unlikely Sons [see in HD]:
“God suffers in the multitude of souls whom His word can not reach. Religious truth is imprisoned in a small number of manuscript books, which confine instead of spread the public treasure. Let us break the seal which seals up holy things and give wings to Truth in order that she may win every soul that comes into the world by her word no longer written at great expense by hands easily palsied, but multiplied like the wind by an untiring machine.”
—Johannes Gutenberg, in a preface to the Gutenberg Bible (1454)
Of course, up until that time no book, including the Bible, had been copied and mass produced on a printing press. Everything had to be written in pen, by hand. (There actually is a blessing in that activity, as words are less likely to be taken for granted.)
Whether you grab a paper copy or a digital version, take up and read the Great Words! Let’s not squander the Truth by keeping it to ourselves. Embody it; proclaim it; be changed by it.
Grateful Johannes Gutenberg employed creativity and innovation for the common good.